We Wear Black

How often is this the case? She sits apart, “too old for such things,” while I immerse. She’s on the verge, ready to jump into the abyss. Temptation is calling, as she always has, to run, run, run.

Could you abandon the refinery of loneliness to enjoy the company of ragamuffins? We’re open, darling; are you? Or will the transition towards messy-lovely community be too much for your white sandals?

That’s why we wear black. Ours were white once, too, till honesty began its work. But don’t you see we’re proud of it? Our shoes are black but our feet are clean. He’s changed our souls, made us new again, but we haven’t forgotten the work He’s done. She bears my burdens and I bear hers, because honesty makes the weight lighter. He carries it all.

Travel, share the news, labor in love for Him, work to make others free. So our sandals have turned black, but our feet are clean.

Come, bare your heart and start this next voyage with us.

The beauty of honesty is sweeter than that of white shoes enclosing feet rubbed raw in an attempt to scrub away the dirt.

We’ve become a culture of self-preservation, and thus are walking mummies.

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So What If It Hurts?

Lines of black
Lead to where
Visions fall flat
Folks forget to care

Lying hazily
In fields of white
Voices scream for meaning
Wishing for wings to take flight

All is starched clean
Perfumed with bleach
While underneath
Rotting sewage lies unseen

Can you taste the disease?
She’s coming on the breeze

Like bitter gall on the tongue
She’ll arrive with the setting of the sun


We’ve become so afraid of getting hurt we’ve boxed ourselves into little white-walled, cushioned caskets of what we think is safe. Minds overflowing with concerns for propriety, we can no longer enjoy the very people we got all dolled up to see and are trying so desperately to impress.

Dear Miami, I watched it happen. While we may have been the city of failures and dropouts, we were also the city of relentless dreamers. Having seen the worst come true, we could stare fear back into her prospective corner because so what if it hurt? At least we lived. There was the mettle that comes with knowing that no matter the outcome, the alternative of living wondering, wishing you had done whatever it was, or perhaps stood against the grain of whatever it was you felt pressured into, was worse than the initial trepidation.

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Beyond this, though, how often are we afraid to speak up or get close and open our hearts because of the mountains of what-ifs? What if (s)he gets offended or takes it the wrong way? What if when they see my heart, it’s too much for them or they criticize it?  What if I get hurt?

While some of these questions do help in building the boundaries necessary for any healthy relationship to flourish, if carried too far they become walls against intimate fellowship in a way that truly is detrimental to our emotional well-being and our Christian walk.

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But still so often we let the fear win. We box ourselves in, and then from that fear, as a mode of both protection and justification we start looking for all the sharp pieces in others that could possibly wound us, neglecting to realize the barbed wire fence we’re slowly building around ourselves. And discontment is birthed.

Darling, don’t let discontment steal your joy in community. We’re all imperfect, carrying residue of our old selves. Look past mine, and I’ll look past yours. Give grace to the ones who’ve hurt you, whether intentionally or not, and return to your circle. Even if they be scattered about the country or globe, return to them. In the Age of Technology, there’s no excuse for scorning community. Granted, be prayerful about the companionship you choose, but when the Lord directs you to a person or people, don’t neglect that, especially not because of pride.

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Sandcastles versus Marble Palaces

There is an undeniable scream inside all of us crying out for something more, a meaning beyond the world behind our eyelids. Like stormclouds gathering, we let the emotions roll in one after the other. Insecurity. Disappointment. Hurt. Bitterness. Perhaps they don’t always arrive in that order, but arrive they do. All are symptomatic of the same thing, what my brother calls “sandcastle pride.” We stop trusting entirely the Lord’s plan for us, and start searching out ways to make our dreams happen on our own. True, any dream worth anything at all requires work, but at what point does work transfer into idolatry?

In the words of one wise nine year old, “Start reading your Bible so you can learn how to get your life back on track!” We are desperate to be alive, yet terrified at what that would mean. Authors make millions off self-help books, either about gaining control or letting go, or doing one to achieve the other. We all dream of a higher existence of some sort, but only once we seek and pursue the Lord’s vision over our lives will we find any sort of the divine calling we crave.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ – this is the Lord’s declaration – ‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

It’s not about the work itself. It can never be about the work or else we’ll fall into either a cycle of obsessive over-achievement or bitter resolve to press on. Neither can it become about whatever earthly outcome, money, or fame, for in the end, once it’s been realized, there will be an inevitable sense of “that’s all?”

I’m not saying we all need to jump up and become ministers; He did make some doctors, filmmakers, musicians, or writers, etc, but there must also be some eternal goal for our lives or else what’s the point?

We all have some daily burden; what’s yours? The daily awareness of what is, and screaming response of what should be? This is your battleground, so wage war! There we find our sense of purpose, of vitality- there we bring bits of His kingdom to earth. And it is in this process of fighting for the “should be,” of fighting for some necessary change weighing on us so heavily it seems that to not strive to bring it about would be a moral slight, that we being to trade the sandcastle for the marble palace.

 

Moment by Moment

This past Thursday, over a picnic at our favorite hideout, my beloved Jonny asked me to be his wife. And of course, I said yes.

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Now as I write this it’s Saturday, and I’m laying on the couch in what feels like an exhaustion-induced paralysis. My mother said I shouldn’t think myself so invincible to jet lag, but of course being her headstrong replica I didn’t listen. And of course, Momma was right. After hopping between twenty-one time zones, perhaps sliding back into my old schedule right off the bat wasn’t the best idea.

But my gosh it’s worth it. I’m home.

For the past six months I’ve been dreaming of this life, and now I’ve returned to it. As incredible as traveling through southeast Asia was, my heart and home and ministry is here in Miami.

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Fast forward a bit- it’s now Tuesday, and I’m just alive enough to deem myself awake, and about to consider my second cup of coffee. The laundry is finished, and though the dress I’m wearing in this picture is now a shirt, as I looked up just now the missing sock was spotted. One task down, coffee in hand, and I’m ready to take on the day. It’s a slow climb, getting back to normality here. With the residue of things experienced still beautifully imprinted upon my mind, I’m gently coming back to the pulsing reality of the life I dream of.

From Delhi to Nepal

White sheets
As we travel on
Life she is a wanderer
Confused in her slumber
Dreams of hope
Terrors of evening scopes
Tell me, where will we go
When all is finally lost?

Let the rain fall
Pour over these bones
Take me home
To where I belong
Safe in his arms.

Dusty toes
As dusk settles in
Joy she is a ghost
Changing shapes as of Heaven
She sings to our souls
We are golden, immortal
Journeying through all
This earth we’re meant to know enjoy.

So let the rain fall
Soak life into these bones
Where You lead, I’ll follow
Though I feel I drown
I will grow.

Let the rain fall
Pour over these bones
Take me home
While I feel I drown
I will grow.

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Slum Chai and International Smiles

Wiping faces, trimming nails, cutting hair. Get pulled into a group of young mothers. Giggle about language barriers, hair colors, and upcoming weddings. Hold their babies. Comb my fingers through the lice infested hair.
Child comes up with typical Indian meal: sweet boiled grain of some sort, similar to quinoa. Mother, smiling, tells me to try some. Fully aware that travelers often get terribly sick from just this, that I was sick from less than this, I said a quick prayer and took a bite. Some experiences are worth it, but more than that showing them that I don’t see myself as being above them, especially in a culture of castes, is worth getting so sick I’d maybe have to be sent home, as we were debating the first time around. To refuse would be to convey that I am higher than them and their way of life, especially given the lack of translation. It would say their food is dirty, that while I will sit and chat with them and play with their kids, I will not go that extra mile of intimacy and break bread with them. I couldn’t do it; I simply could not.
Smiling through the almost immediate nausea and heartburn, I sat with a woman whose young son (between four and six years old) we had prayed for a few days before. His legs were burned by a cooking fire about a week prior to our arrival, and he could no longer walk. As her kids ran back and forth, we laughed instead of talked, playing with her kids as they came by. Two of the four are in the picture with me. Through it all, the little family had such joy. I ran into her on the bus today, and was once again shocked by her immaculate beauty. However, beyond the mirth, beyond the elegance, there’s more pain in her eyes than many of the other women I met there. She’s one I dream of taking out to coffee and just chatting with, with no language barrier to this time curb our conversation. Perhaps on the nearing Other Side.
About a half hour before we left, one of the couples I was sitting with invited me into their home for chai. Again, to refuse would be more damaging to them and to our witness here than any bacteria would be to me. I can treat bacteria, but the wound of offense takes much longer to overcome. Having watched it boil, though, I knew this one was safe (and delicious).
Upon stepping into their home, the first thing I noticed was the purple and gold scarf hanging as tapestry. Catching my breath, I whispered to the wife that it was beautiful. Seeing as how she couldn’t understand my words, I hope the smile conveyed it.
These two families, both believers, were some of the most fascinating to me. While I hunger to know the full stories of the first (why did I never see her husband? Was she married? What was her daily life like?), the second was the only couple I’ve seen here who appeared genuinely in love. Teasing and laughing with each other and their children, it was clear they truly enjoy each other’s company.
I hope to return soon, to continue to love on these people and experience more of their way of life. Despite the poverty, there is such exquisite glory. Each time we’ve visited this slum our cameras have stayed home. On our final day or two with them, I hope to capture each rubble covered rose lying hidden there.
Humans like these families, like the children of this little Indian tent-town are why I’m here. Their smiles, their laughter, their joy. All they ask of us is prayer and a hand to hold. Gladly, my darling.
Until next time
XOXO
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Photo Credit to Chris Park (IG: @chrispark01) 

Outreach: the Beginnings

Week 11.

Honestly, I barely remember lectures this week. My mind was already on outreach, and so much happened this week which I am not yet at liberty to talk about, but I can’t wait to share with you guys when the time comes. Let’s just say God is good and He moves in amazing ways. 

This may be one of my shortest updates ever, because this week flew by. Packing, hugs, joy, airports, and buses are about all it’s consisted of so far. And this is where I’m most content. In the air. Crossing the dateline for the first time. Wandering Japanese suburbs at midnight with beloved ohana. Hot cafe au lait from vending machines while we wait for the train. 

The delirium of being awake for over twenty four hours. The hustle to make the flight. So it begins. And I am content. 

   
  

  

    

Ruined for the Ordinary

It’s Saturday of week ten. I forgot to write week nine’s update, so this will be a mixture. However, I was sick for most of week nine, so there isn’t much to tell, besides the weekend.

After eight of weeks of living without a car, on the weekend of the ninth, we rented a jeep. Hawaii is beautiful, but living in the same five mile radius was becoming claustrophobic for all of us, so finally we decided to explore the entire island.

Mud Lane was probably my favorite, along with the little town of Waimea it resides in.

 

And so we arrive in week ten. The Father heart of God. The last full week before outreach. I don’t even have words for this week. Breaking through the last of my walls, God opened my eyes to everything that’s been going on these past three months in my life and in my heart; things I was too overwhelmed to see fully as they were happening. He finished the job, to where I know that I know that I know that I don’t have to strive to win His love, and that who I am as Serenity is enough both for Him, and the people around me.

In this, as much as I know I’m desperately going to miss this community living, my bones are aching for flight again. Over the past few years, I truly  have “been ruined for the normal,” as Loren Cunningham would say. When the time comes for me to return to Miami, if the Lord wills I remain there, it will have to be with constant short term missions. Before I ever left, short term missions was a passion of mine, but it’s time to take it to another level. I want to train others in short term missions, help prepare them for what they may see and how the Holy Spirit may work within their own hearts and minds.

However, spontaneous adventures across the island we’ve been calling home, nights spent laughing, crying, or debating with each other the strangeness of the outside world’s society will be dearly missed. Random spurts of insanity bringing about strips of pink hair on four of us (of course I am one of them), all because one had the beautiful idea of doing her whole head. Understanding in just a glance. Divulging age old secrets and fears with the ease and grace of dawn overtaking the night.

From this week on, I may have to do updates every other week instead of weekly, due to the insanity of outreach. If I fall behind, forgive me. I can’t believe Lecture Phase is ending, but I’m stoked to see what the next season holds.

Until next time.

XOXO

Frye.

I keep trying to write this precious boy’s story, but every time I simply can’t. Within a matter of days this boy became like my son. When we first arrived in the Peruvian jungle, we all believed him to be about seven years old. Towards the end of the trip, we learned he was actually a malnourished twelve or thirteen year old.

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Picture Credit: Carlos Paillacar

When I first met him, the fierceness in his eyes, with such humorous joy hidden underneath, was all I noticed. Part of what we were doing there was running a Vacation Bible School of sorts for the kids, and my job was to choreograph little hand-motions and dances for each of the songs and teach it to them. From the first day on until right before we left, the moment our eyes locked, he would come up and dance with me. Energetic, full of spunk and mischief, as well as genuine love, this boy captured my heart within days. It’s been over a year, and I still think of him almost every day. His passion for learning both about the Lord and regular, straight forward academics is beautiful. With a single glance, the next prank on his silly gringa friend is planned, and when I stumble into the trap, his good natured smile lights up a room as he helps me out of the mess he got me in.

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Frye is on the right, Junior on the left.

What none of us realized until the day before we left was that, at least at the time, he was raising himself, living off what he could find. When I learned this, my heart broke in a way it hadn’t ever before for this amazing young man. His home village of Juancito is known for its hostility towards outsiders and drunkenness in the male culture, but you would never know this from watching Frye. Such effervescent joy in every circumstance, such hopefulness, willingness to learn…
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So this is my request to you, dear reader: pray for him. Pray that he maintains his hope in the Lord as he continues to grow and be discipled by the church there. Pray for strong, righteous male influences to come into his life. Puberty itself is hard enough; I can’t imagine it without someone there to look up to. And please, pray that he never loses sight of his joy-Giver. And whoever in your own life this post made you think of, take a moment to pray for them, too, and maybe even reach out to them if you can. 

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.'” -Matthew 19:14

Until next time,

XOXO

Hungry Hearts

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying “Holy, You are.”DSC_0264

Do You feel the rush
Hungry hearts
Grateful, we push
Forward to Your arms.DSC_0237

United purpose
Single Spirit
Fragrant roses
We lift our souls to You.DSC_0206

One thousand tongues
Words of fire
We lift our souls to You
Lift us higherDSC_0244

Joy resounding
From the trees, the sky
We lift our souls to You
Lift us high.DSC_0270

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying ‘Holy, You are.’DSC_0277